DS Game Roundup • Page 5

Monsters, mazes and more that you've never heard about.

Monster Bomber

One of the few games in 505's budget-priced DS range that's already available in the West (Majesco brought it out in the US last November), Monster Bomber is part Bust-A-Move and part Space Invaders, with the player using the stylus to flick coloured balls at the cuddly-looking aliens advancing down the top-screen.

Initially it doesn't seem much more complicated than that. You keep the multicoloured enemy force at bay with a steady succession of neutralising projectiles - blue balls for blue bugs, red for red, etc. - and a few levels of flicking exhausts the wrist and suggests that it's just a game of staving off the inevitable.

Fortunately there's more to it than that, although the ineloquent tutorial fails to explain this, which is fairly typical of the cheap translations on display here. What's key to note is that you can flick the balls from anywhere on the touch-screen - the coloured boxes at the bottom are simply where you go to collect them before moving them around and discharging. Moving them closer to the hinge allows for more precise targeting, and helps negate the standard DS problem of the game not acknowledging the 1cm gap between screens.

5

More interesting than it initially appears. And then dull again.

What's more, holding onto balls for longer charges them up, making for a bigger impact and pushing enemies of opposing colours backwards. If they then smash into compatriots whose colour does match your ball's, they all explode together, which is what the game considers a chain.

Chaining then becomes the norm, as you try and fulfil the single-player game's quota demands - 100 enemies, 150, 5 chains of 5, etc. - and avoid the obstacles that it uses to disrupt your efforts on the top-screen, which include metal bars that bounce balls around but also black holes that absorb your balls before they have a chance to reach their target.

Unfortunately with enemies wiggling this way and that any high-end strategy is hard to locate. Doubly disappointing is that the random tactic of simply picking a colour and firing it off repeatedly has a tendency to work, as, when the action heats up, there's inevitably an alien of every colour on the screen somewhere, and pushing the others back and back will eventually connect with it and chain. If you have no luck, you can always move onto the next colour along. It reduces certain levels to shooting dead fish in a barrel.

Elsewhere, the multiplayer mode is more a case of surviving the longest than exhibiting any competitive skill (in which case, why not just play Survival mode?), and while those who get stuck in will find plenty of stages and difficulty levels to work through, it's all still quite basic even after a few tortured hours, and the occasional lazy design decision (like refusing to accept chains bigger than those asked for in "get 4 chains of 4" style scenarios) conspire with the general lack of urgency to turn you off completely. Speaking of fours...

4 / 10

DS Game Roundup Tom Bramwell Monsters, mazes and more that you've never heard about. 2007-05-04T07:10:00+01:00 4 10

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